Music of South Carolina
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South Carolina is noted for being the birthplace of beach music, an offshoot of early R&B and rock 'n' roll that featured a shuffling beat which spawned the dance called The Shag. This Myrtle Beach-area dance is the official State Dance, although South Carolina has also contributed to two other famous dances, the Charleston in the 1920s, and the Big Apple in the 1930s.
South Carolina also has two official state songs: "Carolina", composed in 1911 with words by Henry Timrod and music by Anne Custis Burgess, and "South Carolina on My Mind", written in 1985 by Buzz Arledge and Hank Martin. The State also has an "official music", Negro spirituals, sacred Christian songs originally developed in the 19th century.
Notable bands and musicians
Perhaps the best known rock band to hail from South Carolina is Columbia's Hootie & the Blowfish, but other groups such as Spartanburg's The Marshall Tucker Band, The Swinging Medallions, Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs, alternative metal band Crossfade from Columbia, Charleston's indie Band of Horses, Southern rock band Needtobreathe, and Blue Dogs also hail from the Palmetto State.
Jazz saxophonist Chris Potter from Columbia has released over 15 CDs as a leader and performed as a sideman on more than 150 other albums. He is the leader of the Chris Potter Underground and has regularly performed with many world-class jazz musicians including Dave Holland and Pat Metheny. In the December, 2014 issue of Down Beat magazine, which featured the results of the annual readers poll, Potter was named the number one tenor saxophonist in the world.
Other prominent musicians and singers born and/or raised in the state include James Brown, Dizzy Gillespie, Chubby Checker, Eartha Kitt, Peabo Bryson, Arthur Smith, Cat Anderson, Tom Delaney, Freddie Green, Drink Small, Johnny Helms, Jabbo Smith, Bill Benford, Tommy Benford, Nick Ashford, Darius Rucker, Josh Turner, Bill Anderson, Edwin McCain ("I'll Be" 1998), Duncan Sheik, Rob Thomas, John Phillips, Walter Hyatt, and David Ball.
The state's bluegrass scene has produced important bands such as The Hired Hands featuring pioneering three-finger banjo player Dewitt "Snuffy" Jenkins and old time fiddler Homer "Pappy" Sherrill. Other notable groups are The Hinson Girls, featuring four sisters from Lancaster, and Palmetto Blue, featuring three South Carolina Folk Heritage Award Recipients: Chris Boutwell (2014), Ashley Carder (2012), and Larry Klein (2004), along with the Davis sisters Shellie and Anna, and banjoist Steve Willis. Bluesmen Pinkney "Pink" Anderson and Reverend Gary Davis were both from Laurens, S.C.
The Beach music classic "Stay" by Lancaster's Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1960. James Brown's soul and funk song "I Got You (I Feel Good)" was #3 on the Hot 100 in 1966, and #1 on the Rhythm and Blues Singles. Greenville's Peabo Bryson's r&b song "A Whole New World" from Aladdin was #1 on the Hot 100 in 1993. Hootie & The Blowfish's roots rock song "Only Wanna Be With You" was #1 on the Mainstream Top 40 chart in 1995. Hootie's debut album Cracked Rear View was the best-selling album of 1995, the 7th best-selling album of the 90s, and is the 16th-best-selling album of all time. Their 2nd album Fairweather Johnson also went to #1 on the Billboard 200.
The Upstate band Needtobreathe had a #2 album on the Billboard 200 with Hard Love in 2016. Indie folk singer Iron & Wine had a #2 album on the Billboard 200 with Kiss Each Other Clean in 2011. Country star Darius Rucker has had two #2 albums on the Billboard 200: Charleston, SC 1966 in 2010 and True Believers in 2013. Country singer Josh Turner from Florence County had a #2 album on the Billboard 200 with Your Man in 2006. And country singer Lee Brice from Sumter had 2 #5 albums on the Billboard 200 with Hard 2 Love in 2012 and I Don't Dance in 2014. Toro y Moi, a popular electronic artist (who had a #1 album on the Dance Chart with Anything in Return in 2013), and rapper Lil Ru are both from Columbia. Crossfade's "Cold" was on the compilation Now That's What I Call Music! 17 (U.S. series) in 2004, and Hilton Head's Trevor Hall's reggae rock song "Brand New Day" was on Now That's What I Call Music! 40 (U.S. series) in 2011.
The region of Myrtle Beach has been home to the well-known Carolina Opry, a country music-based variety show, established in 1986 by singer, producer and entrepreneur, Calvin Gilmore, South Carolina's official country music ambassador, who continues to produce and perform in the show today. The Carolina Opry was the first live family entertainment venue on the Grand Strand and helped turn Myrtle Beach into one of the major centers for country music on the East Coast. Local venues include the Dolly Parton's Pirates Voyage, one of many attractions owned by Dolly Parton, the Alabama Theater, named for the band Alabama, and the Palace Theatre. Other artists tried their hand with their own theaters which did not last, such as Ronnie Milsap and the Gatlin Brothers. Myrtle Beach is also home to the South Carolina State Bluegrass Festival.
Outside of Myrtle Beach, the town of West Columbia is notable as the home of Bill Wells of the Blue Ridge Mountain Grass; he is the owner of a local music shop, which hosts a weekly bluegrass show at the Pickin' Parlor.
Lesser known venues include Ground Zero in Spartanburg, the New Brookland Tavern in West Columbia and the House of Blues in North Myrtle Beach as well as the Pour House on James Island, and the Music Farm with locations in downtown Charleston and Columbia. The Five Points district in Columbia features a variety of bands each year at its St. Patrick's Day festival.
Charleston's WYLA FM (97.5 mhz) programs almost entirely local and in-state artists. The station broadcasts 24 hours per day from studios at the Charleston County Main Library, where they also host live performances.
Lists of musicians and bands
- Beach Music
- Piedmont blues
- Jenkins Orphanage, Charleston
- Appalachian music
- Indigenous music of North America#Eastern Woodlands
- Byron, Janet (1996). Country Music Lover's Guide to the U.S.A. (1st ed.). New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 178. ISBN 0-312-14300-1.